The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a final ruling for determining significant new uses of 17 materials, 2 of which are types of carbon nanotube. Those ‘[…] persons who intend to manufacture or process’ these materials for activities deemed ‘significant new use[s]’ must notify the Agency ‘at least 90 days before commencing […]’. The ruling comes into effect on 26 August 2013.
The EPA has previously issued final rule SNURs for the nanomaterials in question here, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). There has, however, been a key change to what is considered a significant new use: these newer SNURs ‘[…] designate as a significant new use manufacture (including import) or processing in the absence of protective measures required in the corresponding consent order […]’; previous rulings did not take into consideration protective measures.
It is stated that, as ‘[…] the development of information sufficient to make reasoned evaluations of the human health effects of the chemical substances’ is still considered pending, the EPA decided to issue TSCA (US Toxic Substances Control Act) 5(e) consent orders ‘requiring the use of appropriate exposure controls […]’. It was upon this foundation that these new SNURs have been issued.
As an aside, comments received on the ruling were also published by the EPA and they show that the Agency was against a labelling requirement for these materials. In response to a comment that ‘the proposed regulations fail to address […] the public’s and worker’s right to know by not providing for mandatory nano-specific ingredient and warning labelling requirements’, the EPA responded that the materials do not need labels as ‘the basis for the consent orders and SNURs is not that they are nanomaterials per se, but rather is based on their specific properties and potential risks’. It also indicated that, in fact, the companies that produce, process and use ‘chemical substances that are carbon nanotubes and fullerenes already clearly identify those chemical substances as nanomaterials’.
Follow this link to read the full text on the ruling, and this link to read NIA’s reporting of previous US EPA final rules on MWCNTs and SWCNTs.